Sue Ryder Care and Gala Coral

A fundraising trek, a famous face - and bulk buying to save costs

The partnership between Sue Ryder Care and bingo firm Gala Coral has thrived on eye-catching ideas. It raised more than £1m in 2009 through events such as a bingo game fronted by Barack Obama's stepmother and a challenge that took 24 Gala Coral employees to Everest Base Camp.

Mrs Obama Bingo emerged when Gala Coral, which owns 148 bingo clubs across the country, discovered that Kezia Obama, who lives in Bracknell, was a keen bingo player. The company asked her about a year ago, shortly before her stepson's inauguration, to be the public face of a campaign to raise awareness among its customers of Sue Ryder Care.

She agreed, and the game on the Gala Bingo website raised more than £20,000 for the charity. She also made a public visit to a Sue Ryder Care centre in Oxfordshire.

The Everest challenge raised £110,000. "We came up with the idea that we'd love to send 24 Gala Coral people and one from Sue Ryder Care to Everest Base Camp to play the world's highest game of bingo," says Colin Morgan, group social responsibility manager at the company.

The partnership, which has been extended until the end of this year, has also had practical benefits for the charity. Gala Coral's group efficiency director saved the charity £750,000 by analysing its supply chain, and the same director is working with the charity on a co-procurement project.

The two organisations have started tendering together for items such as tea, which is needed in huge quantities for both Gala bingo halls and Sue Ryder Care centres. They are looking to extend the collaboration to uniforms and other food items.

The co-procurement project is likely to outlive the partnership. "We will work with them again if it brings down costs for both organisations," says Morgan.

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